Ways of Seeing: A Reconstruction of Hardy's Wessex

Rattenbury, K. Ways of Seeing: A Reconstruction of Hardy's Wessex. Proceedings, Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society.

TitleWays of Seeing: A Reconstruction of Hardy's Wessex
TypeJournal article
AuthorsRattenbury, K.
Abstract

This paper introduces the context and speculative architectural methodologies underlying Kester Rattenbury’s recent book The Wessex Project: Thomas Hardy, Architect. The book is the first time that Hardy’s work has been studied in detail by an architectural critic, and has been called a ‘must read’ by The Hardy Society Journal, as introducing an entirely new approach to Hardy’s work.

In this paper (based on presentations given at the Hardy International Conference, the DCM/National Trust lecture series and The Hardy Society Annual London Lecture, all 2018) Rattenbury introduces the usually tacit but highly-evolved and widely-used ways in which architects both ‘read’ and ‘construct’ real and imaginary design projects, and how applying them to Hardy’s wider body of work opens up a new and profoundly architectural interpretation of Hardy’s work. From this perspective, she argues the fundamental importance of Hardy’s visual material, method and as key facets of Hardy’s architecturally cross-disciplinary content, meaning and argument.

She argues that Hardy’s varied work, (including collaborations notably on photography and stage design) his maps, Wessex Poems drawings, collaborative visual and design work typically ascribed to others (the Hermann Lea Photos, the Hardy Players stage sets), his covert conservation campaigns, his buildings and factual writings on Wessex have to be read assembled, as architects do, as components making up the construction of Wessex, and operating as what she claims is an experimental and highly influential architectural conceptual project with considerable outreach today. She also introduces major new findings including the implications of his remarkable role as a leading and hugely influential conservation campaigner through his novels, and the till now unrecognised experimental design collaborations including in the photography and stage design of Wessex.

KeywordsThomas Hardy, Architecture, Experimental, Photography, Drawings, Wessex Poems, Conservation, Polemic, Stage Design, Project.
JournalProceedings, Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society
PublisherDorset Natural History and Archaeological Society

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